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Beyond the Classroom

Studies on Pupils and Informal Schooling Processes in Modern Europe

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Edited By Anna Larsson and Björn Norlin

The research on educational history has traditionally focused on its institutional, political and pedagogical aspects, more or less habitually analyzing schooling as a top-down, adult-controlled phenomenon. Even if change has been visible during the last decades, there still remain important topics that are rarely discussed in the field. These topics include practices related to day-to-day school life that are not part of the formal curriculum or classroom routine, but which nevertheless allow pupils to become actively involved in their own schooling. This book provides historical case studies on such extracurricular and informal schooling processes. It argues that the awareness of such topics is essential to our understanding of school settings – in both past and present.
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VIII. Between Identity and Stigmatization: The Socialization of East Berlin Pupils in the 1950s

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In April 1971, while working on a report in East Berlin, West German press photographer Klaus Lehnartz took a picture of the 14th Willi Bredel1 Polytechnical School in the district of Mitte.2 The framing chosen by the ← 159 | 160 → photographer immediately draws the reader’s attention to the slogan written in capital letters across three storeys of windows on the school’s main building: ‘Marxism-Leninism is the scientific ideology of the victorious working class!’ This message, typical of Communist agitprop, probably established in the West German photographer’s mind that school was a state enterprise charged with indoctrinating the young. This journalistic perception was scarcely at variance with the scientific discourse conducted by West German researchers in the field of educational sciences (historians, sociologists) at the same time. Until 1989 and sometimes long beyond, the aforementioned explained the functioning of the East German educational institution through a totalitarian framework of interpretation in which a ‘party-state’, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), separate and distinct from society, extended to encompass it and determine its internal development.3 However, it would be a mistake to reduce the history of school to the will of East German leaders expressed in their speeches, school syllabi and textbooks or symbolized through public demonstrations. Without intending to deny the dictatorial nature of the GDR, we believe that one should not fall victim to the ideological illusion produced by this dictatorial regime that presented itself as a coherent and self-contained reality. Thus, the staging of an ideology...

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